10 celebs you didn’t know were from Wisconsin 

Credit: IMDb

By Christina Lorey

February 28, 2024

We’re loud and proud about Oprah, Chris Farley, and Liberace’s Wisconsin ties, but there’s a long list of famous faces who spent their formative years in the Badger State.

Here are 10: 

Tony Crivello: The Tony Award-winning actor and singer has vivid memories of his childhood on Holton and North Avenue, including the time he barely escaped a firebomb and a bullet in the 1967 riots. He’s perhaps best-known for playing the title role in The Phantom of the Opera: The Las Vegas Spectacular.

Kristen Johnston: Known for her character Sally Solomon on the hit NBC series “Third Rock from the Sun,” Johnson came into her own at Whitefish Bay High School. There, she starred in numerous school productions before joining the Milwaukee Players, a community theater group, always playing “the kooky side part.”

Tony Kubek: The retired baseball player and announcer grew up in a tiny house at 2528 S. Fifth PI. from the 1930s through ’50s. In a nod to his future career, he played “corkball” in the streets with a broom handle and brewery corks. During his nine seasons with the Yankees, Kubek played in six World Series in the late ‘50s and ‘60s.

John Morgridge: The future chief executive of Cisco Systems once had a bicycle paper route for the Milwaukee Sentinel. After retiring as CEO in 2006, he and his wife donated $175 million to create the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars, an endowment that provides grants to low-income students attending Wisconsin’s public colleges.

John Ridley: The director, author, and playwright grew up in Milwaukee in the ’60s and then moved to Mequon in 1971. He’s best known for his work on 12 Years a Slave, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Ridley is also the creator and showrunner of the popular series, American Crime.

George Tillman Jr.: The screenwriter and director based his film Soul Food on memories of life at 42nd and Capitol in Milwaukee. He’s also the producer of four films in the Barbershop series and directed the 2009 biopic Notorious about the late rapper, The Notorious B.I.G.

Patricia Wells: She now splits her time between Paris and Provence, but the renowned dining critic and cookbook author hasn’t forgotten her hometown – or her mother’s cooking. She grew up in West Allis and Wauwatosa and  is the only American and only woman to have served as a restaurant critic for a major French publication, L’Express.

David Zucker, Jerry Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker: Often abbreviated to ZAZ, the American comedy filmmaking trio met as kids growing up in Shorewood. While attending the UW-Madison, they founded a small theater, which led to their first sketch comedy film, The Kentucky Fried Movie. You probably know them from their other films like Airplane and the Naked Gun series.

MORE: The 10 biggest Wisconsin musicians of all time (& their biggest hit)


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.



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